Google Now Update for Android Shows Indoor Maps, Geofenced Product Alerts

Google is updating its search app for Android devices. As part of that update Google Now, its predictive search/intelligent assistant feature, is offering new content and capabilities. These new features do not yet extend to Google Search/Now on iOS devices. 

The feature that got considerable coverage earlier today is a parking-locator card. Google records the location of your vehicle on the street or in a parking lot. It will show you a Google Now card with a map of the vehicle's location and point you in the right direction to get back to your car. 

I haven't used it so I don't know if it works at all. But it's potentially very useful.

Google Now will also now work when your wireless network or internet connection doesn't. In other words, the Now cards will remain on the phone and not disappear.

Google Now new features

Source: Google 

Of particular relevance to our discussion of Place-based marketing, Google Now will also show indoor maps of selected malls. I suspect later it will show indoor maps of stores that it has already captured. Google has maps of roughly 50 malls and a number of retail chains such as Home Dept, Macy's, Sports Authority, Ikea and others. Coverage is uneven however. 

Most intriguing of all, Google Now will remind users about products they've searched for previously when those users are near stores that carry the same items. If you've been looking for a particular type of running shoe, for example, and a nearby store typically carries that product Google Now will indicate you're near a store that offers it. 

This capability doesn't extend to real-time inventory however. That's up to the user to check or confirm.

In addition, it's not clear how large the geofence is. Will it be a mile, 3, miles, 5 miles? I suspect Google will see how users interact with this feature and adjust the geofence radius accordingly.

In a very obvious way this "product-alert" capability could quickly become a feature of Google's PLAs and a potentially powerful marketing vehicle for retailers and brands. Today users must themselves invoke Google Now (swipe up). To be really effective and helpful, however, Google Needs to turn some of these things into push notifications. 

It's very interesting that three out of four of these new features and capabilities pertain to location and two specifically to shopping and indoor location.